What Are You Doing to Stay in Touch with Employees ‘On a Break’?

Employees leave companies for a variety of reasons, and many are not necessarily permanent. Some employees may move for a significant other or may pursue a long-shot opportunity that doesn’t ultimately pan out. Others may take time off to raise a family or care for a loved one.employees
Unlike in years past, a former employee may not stay former forever. Recognizing this and seeing the potential for “reboarding” departing employees, some companies are taking steps to formalize the separation—and postseparation—process.
One such company, Microsoft, has recently ramped up its efforts to hire women seeking to rejoin the workforce.
The motivation for companies like Microsoft may have a lot to do with mitigating potential perceptions of gender bias. “Such ‘returnship’ programs, aimed at workers who had paused their careers to raise children or care for loved ones, are gaining popularity in Silicon Valley as technology companies seek to address criticism about its bias toward young male staff,” writes Salvador Rodriguez.
But this trend raises a broader implication for employers, regardless of the gender, race, religion, etc., of a former employee: What are you doing to stay in touch with potential “returners?”
Many employers take it as a personal afront when an employee—especially a valued employee—leaves the organization. But that can be a big mistake. After all, business is business.
In the absence of some legitimate bad fit personality, employers should be open to the idea of staying in touch with past employees and the potential for them to return to a former position in a lateral move or even a new role higher up in the organization based on new perspectives and experience they may have gained while away.
Employees may take a break from the workforce or a break from your company for a number of reasons. But that break doesn’t need to be permanent. There is always potential value in rerecruiting an employee who is familiar with your business and your company culture.
And the skills, experience, and knowledge they gain in their time away could provide an additional benefit to your organization if there’s a good fit in bringing them back on board.
What are you doing to ensure that the separation process for your key employees is one that will help you maintain contact and that they know the door will be open to them if they someday choose to return?